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A photography exhibit tells the story of New York’s Puerto Rican community

After nearly 4 decades of burial, the black and white photographs taken by the founding members of the 1974 cooperative, En Foco, are currently on display at El Museo del Barrio until February 27, reflecting the life of the community. Puerto Rican. in New York City, from classrooms to barbershops to street corners.

The exhibition features a portfolio of evocative documents from the 1970s, telling the idiosyncratic story of New York’s thriving Puerto Rican diaspora life in an exhibit titled EN FOCO: THE PUERTORICAN EXPERIENCE OF NEW YORK, 1973-74.

Each of the 79 black and white photographs included in the El Museo installation were taken by Bronx residents Charles Biasiny-Rivera, Roger Cabán and Felipe Dante, the founding members of En Foco, who all focused their photography on the themes of education, small business and work, to portray the realities of their community while living in the city.

Photo courtesy of Museu del Barrio

In response to stereotypical outward portrayals of the Nuyorican community (the term commonly used for Puerto Rican people or culture in New York City), the collective used their photography to tell the story of a “community that helped make New York City the most complex and vibrant city in the Americas,” said exhibit curator at El Museo, Susanna Temkin.

“This work is part of the legacy of El Museo del Barrio and represents the original ethos behind both organizations: El Museo and the photography collective En Foco,” Temkin said.

El Museo del Barrio was founded over 50 years ago by artist and educator Raphael Montañez Ortiza, along with a coalition of Puerto Rican educators, artists and activists. The museum is now the main Latin American cultural institution in the country, which makes it the ideal place to present the exhibition En Foco.

Photo courtesy of Museu del Barrio

Through its permanent collection, various art installations and publications, educational programs and initiatives, El Museo actively seeks to encourage visitors from all walks of life to explore and experience their carefully curated landscape, showcasing the lives of many New York’s most influential communities.

Since its official opening in November, the reception given to the exhibition has been incredible. “It’s fascinating how people find them so contemporary and inspiring,” Temkin said.

In addition to the full selection of photographs, the installation will include posters, catalogs, a photo book that includes reproduced images from the show and historical texts, as well as other documents detailing the relationship between En Foco and El Museo. del Barrio.

“There is an urgent need to make it available to new generations of museum visitors,” Temkin said, “so they can connect with historically relevant works in discussions of cultural identity and culture-focused photography. community”.

El Museo del Barrio is located at 1230 5th Avenue. For more information, visit